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Catching the Ebb

Drift-Fishing for a Life in Cook Inlet

Bert Bender

Drawings by Tony Angell

6×9 inches. B&W drawings. 336 pages.

2008. ISBN 978-0-87071-296-8. Paperback, $22.95.

Bert Bender started fishing Alaska’s Cook Inlet in 1963 with a 30-foot sailboat converted to gas power and with no equipment for pulling in a net. Catching the Ebb recounts his thirty summers of gill-netting for salmon and describes his parallel career as a professor of American literature. Drawing on his academic specialties—American sea literature and the influence of evolutionary biology and ecology in American writing—Bender celebrates the fishing life and traces the fishery’s path of change, from shifts in the market and the demise of canneries to the effects of the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989 to the rise of the farmed salmon industry.

Catching the Ebb will appeal to readers interested in Alaska, the sea, and the fishing life. In addition to its stories of people, boats, and fish, Bender’s compelling memoir addresses the critical question: Can we restrain our heedless pollution of the sea and avoid depleting ocean resources?

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